Nutritionists and Dieticians, see people all the time thinking that restrictive dieting will give them the body they want, or
- Counting carbs reduces pants sizes, or
- Exercising every day will melt away the fat, or
- Juice cleanses are the best way to feel sexy and confident again.
- And because of those myths, people remain stuck!
The continued struggle is because every time you try to count and cut calories, do cardio exercises every day, or deprive yourself of foods you love, it ends up working against you! And all of these lack of nutrition-focused efforts cause weight to pile back on and then some… and then guilt, frustration, shame set in.
Before I was a Nutritionist or had any knowledge about proper nutrition, I used to count calories. And I became so obsessed with every bite of food that went into my body and had days where I felt so hungry that eventually, I caved into my cravings, binged, and ate whatever food I could get my hands on, healthy or not.
When we diet, we inevitably restrict our calorie intake. And when we restrict our food intake to a limited number of calories, our blood sugar levels decline, which slows our metabolism AND causes us to experience cravings, especially for sweet or salty foods
When our blood sugar levels are low and our metabolism slows down, our bodies go into starvation mode, which promotes the release of hunger hormones (so we are always feeling hungry) and since we are feeling the cravings, we often give into sweets or salty foods or other highly palatable foods that likely send our blood sugar levels sky high again.
Plus, with low blood sugar, we are hungry, if not hangry, and so the second we end up eating, we probably end up overeating (or what I call bingeing), and our body’s blood sugar level skyrockets too. Your body ends up with too much sugar in its system.
I know you’re fed up, and your body is fed up. So, what if instead there was a better way?
Nutrition to balance blood sugar and insulin.
What does this mean?
It means fueling your body with the right nutrition via
- The right carbs
- At the right time
- In the right amounts
- Paired with the right foods
- Managing the hormones insulin and leptin to honor our body’s satiety
- Managing our response to stress to control the release of the stress hormone cortisol
Because your body doesn’t work in isolation – it’s not “eat this and lose weight.” Your body needs multiple nutrients in various food combinations to optimize its function.
And our bodies become optimized when hormones like insulin are balanced.
Insulin becomes a particular problem when you spend months and years in the carbohydrate cycle. What’s that you ask? For example, maybe you wake up in the morning and have a bowl of cereal or oatmeal with some fruit and a glass of juice. Having not eaten since dinner the night before, your body reacts to the rapid influx of carbohydrates (a.k.a. sugars) in that meal, sending your blood sugar through the roof and giving you a burst of needed energy.
Insulin is a hormone that gets released in response to your elevated blood sugar (from that carb-loaded breakfast) and its job is to clear the sugar from the blood and take it to its storage place in the body to be used for energy.
As fast as your blood sugar rose, it plummets. That quick energy you experienced is now gone. Not only that, your now low blood sugar tells the body that you need more fuel. That triggers hunger as well as cravings for carbohydrates, as your body knows that’s the fastest way to get that blood sugar back up. So now, only an hour or two after eating that carbo-rich meal, you’re hungry again, you’re tired, and you’re craving more carbohydrates. That low blood sugar has also triggered a stress response (and related stress hormone release) from your body so now there’s this uneasy sense of urgency – “I gotta have sugar NOW!” So, you’re human. And what do you do? You grab a (sugary) snack – a granola bar, crackers, a bag of chips. Annnnnnd we’re right back in the cycle!
As if being hungry, tired, moody, and craving sweets weren’t bad enough, we’re storing fat all the while!
So, if you feel hungry shortly after eating, if you struggle with energy swings throughout the day and regularly crave carbohydrates, you might be stuck in the carb cycle.
A few tips from a nutritionist to get unstuck:
- Stick to a schedule – Plan to eat every three to four hours, stopping after dinner.
- Include lean protein and healthy fats at every meal, especially first thing in the morning.
- Avoid carbs at breakfast. Protein and healthy fats instead!
- Choose low-glycemic foods – Avoid refined (white) and sugary foods.